UVA… UVB… SPF… OMG! The sunscreen shelf at the local pharmacy has turned into an entire sunscreen aisle, with hundreds of products on the market and conflicting advice on how, when, and where to apply them. To make things less confusing, here are answers to some common questions from the Circle of Moms communities about protecting your little ones from harmful rays.
1. Minimum SPF
The most common and effective sunscreens for kids range between SPF 30-70. So which SPF is best? While some moms choose the higher numbers, most agree that SPF 30 is the minimum you should use. Kimberly W. says she goes with 30 because she feels it is the ideal: "Anything over or under doesn't work as good." Rachelle B. relays similar advice from her doctor: "I found a sunscreen that is 100 SPF then my doctor laughed at me and said 30 was all I needed for my daughter, [because] after 30 it really doesn't matter."
2. Spray, Stick or Lotion?
Sunscreen is made in a few different forms now, but which is best for your preschooler? The answer may depend on the situation and/or the body part it's being applied to. When it comes to a daily application, most moms still go with the more traditional lotion. As Jayne M. shares, lotion with sunscreen is an essential part of her kids' morning routine: "They help rub it in. They wear it every day as 'lotion' since we live in Florida and they spend lots of time outside."
For children's faces, many moms recommend sunblock in stick form, one of the newer innovations in sunscreen. Erica O. describes it as "a large Chapstick" that is easy to apply: "It goes on quick and easy. My son hates it when I rub his face, so he's more agreeable with the stick." Similarly, Elyse C. uses only sunscreen in stick form on her child's face, "so it doesn't drip into the eyes."
A third form of sunblock, sunblock spray, can be especially helpful for hard-to-cover areas. As a member named Marissa shares: "I was always worried about not getting my daughter completely covered... I can even spray it in her hair line when she has pigtails in....it's wonderful." Several moms also prefer spray for protection from extended sun exposure such as a day at the beach, because it is easier to re-apply than other forms.
3. Moms' Favorite Brands
Moms in our communities consistently recommend the same few sunscreen brands for children. The Aveeno brand gets recommended often for being non-greasy and great for sensitive skin. As Briana V. shares, it is "expensive, but worth it."
When it comes to staying on skin, Bullfrog is another popular sunscreen brand that is praised in the Circle Of Moms communities. Part of their slogan reads, "Engineered to stay put..." and Kasey M. says they live up to their slogan: "Bullfrog has always been my fave! It actually stays on, unlike the others!" Bullfrog doesn't market products specifically for kids, but their sunscreen is made for sensitive skin.
And finally, Coppertone (often one of the first brands we think of in the history of sun care products) is still getting high marks from many moms. Lisa O. likes Coppertone Water Babies and Marissa swears by Coppertone Spray.
4. Chemical Dangers
With any brand of sunscreen, there are some ingredients you should try to avoid, especially when slathering it on your children on a daily basis.
As Jill W. points out, the FDA does not regulate the ingredients in sunscreen, so it is a good idea to do some investigating on your own. She goes on to identify some of the harmful chemicals that some brands contain: "Homosalate (HMS), Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and Oxybenzone or 4MBC. Avoid products containing these chemicals. Choosing a mineral sunscreen, rather than a 'chemical' sunscreen is a good idea. Mineral sunscreens act as a mechanical barrier from UV rays and aren't absorbed by the skin."
Ashley P. also feels it's worth it to consider using organic sunscreen, even though it is more expensive: "Although I don't want my kids to get skin cancer [from sun exposure], I also don't like all the chemicals and 'extras' that are put in sunscreen."
5. Where, When, and How Often to Apply
When it comes to planning protection from sun exposure, the advice is pretty clear: apply sunscreen before heading out, and at regular intervals throughout the day. Jodi uses this guideline with her kids: "The experts recommend applying a half hour BEFORE going in the sun, and then reapplying about every two hours, or sooner if you are perspiring heavily or in the water."
Quite a few moms also feel that the best practice is to make wearing sunscreen a daily habit that they hope will stick. Depending on where you live, that might mean applying sunscreen year-round or only during certain months. As Sadie F. relays of her fair-skinned children's sunscreen habits, "Over the summer months it's part of their daily routine." Laura M. uses sunscreen on her daughter daily, regardless of the weather: "She hated it when we first started, but now at the age of five it's just part of our getting ready routine."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.